The Wheel

Brian ran the Ferris wheel.
He was seventeen, rail-thin, and had long hair.
It was his first summer job.
He neither enjoyed nor hated it.

He traveled with the circus.
He visited Coeur d’Alene, Bismark, and Moscow.
The cities blurred together, sweaty faces and dusty fields.
He kept to himself.
He talked sometimes to Rose, the girl who ran the Tilt-a-whirl.
You wouldn’t call them friends.

In Lovell, the Ferris wheel came off the frame.
The construction team had been tired when they built it, and neglected a few bolts.
Nothing much.
No one was on the wheel when it broke free.
Brian stood stock-still as it bore down upon him.
Its enormity was majestic.

Rose tackled him.
They spun together over the dusty field.
The dust made his eyes water.
When the world stopped spinning, Rose was on top on him.
Her eyes were closed, and water was leaking from underneath the lids.
Her cheeks were muddy.

The Ferris wheel crashed through the fence.
The other workers shouted as they chased it toward the river.
Rose’s eyes opened, three inches from his.
She had brown eyes, he noticed.
“Thank you,” he said.
“Don’t mention it,” she said, and fainted.